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2017 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Foundation For Students Rising Above

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Education, Philanthropy, Public Foundations, Scholarships, Scholarships & Student Financial Aid, Undergraduate Colleges

Mission: Students Rising Above helps exceptional low-income Bay Area high school students who are overcoming tremendous odds of poverty, homelessness, and neglect, to fulfill their dream of a college education. We provide the mentoring, financial assistance, and employment skills to be successful in school and in life.

Target demographics: low-income, first generation college students

Geographic areas served: the San Francisco Bay Area

Programs: college application assistance, pre-college readiness support, tuition assistance, career development workshops, paid summer internships, mentors and healthcare.

Community Stories

59 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As a new volunteer with Students Rising Above, I am repeatedly amazed by the amount of effort that everyone in the organization puts towards making sure that these very deserving high school students 1) get accepted to a good college and 2) are successful there. SRA is so well-organized and well-run: although I have been involved with many nonprofits through the years, this is the one that has made the greatest impact on me. I think it also makes the greatest impact on the students it serves. I can't rate this organization highly enough.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Students Rising Above (SRA) is an outstanding philanthropic entity. To categorize it as a scholarship program does not adequately describe the depth and essence of what SRA provides and accomplishes.

SRA’s greatest asset is the structure of the program itself. The organizations ability to anticipate and address not only the financial requirements of their students but also their emotional, academic, medical, dental and general needs as growing young adults is the key to this nonprofit's success. With dedicated academic mentors as well as individual mentors for support, encouragement and social experiences, SRA addresses the needs of their students as whole people with practicality, efficiency, grace and dignity. This comprehensive approach is SRA’s most outstanding characteristic and it is the implementation of this ethos by all of those involved and connected to SRA that enables and perpetuates the growth and success of this remarkable program.

My introduction to SRA came in the form of an incredible cowboy themed party one afternoon in July. This event was the result of one of my mother’s infamous auction purchases from what I thought was simply another charitable event she had attended. (Yes, I realize this sounds jaded but if you knew my mother you would understand ☺) Our family entertains a lot, we celebrate anything and everything and the bottom line is we believe having fun in life is serious business. For example our family and friends all arrived for this event appropriately dressed in cowboy boots & hats and of course my mom provided cowboy boot glasses for refreshments and bandanas because, well, it wouldn’t be a cowboy party without bandanas. I knew from the moment we stepped off of the bus that this was not simply another one of my mom’s crazy auction purchases. It was evident from the get go that we were in the hands of some exceptional people who clearly shared in our beliefs and values as they relate to celebrations and having a good time.

Not only were our hosts dressed to the nines as we were, but they had bandanas for all of us as they greeted us with welcoming smiles in front of a picturesque barn complete with hay bales, a line dancing caller and band.

The dedication, enthusiasm and incredible energy of our hosts could be felt from the moment we met, but until we sat down to lunch I still had no clue about the amazing people or premise behind SRA. In brief but poignant remarks Kirsten McCarthy introduced SRA to our group. I was intrigued and Kirsten encouraged me to submit an application to become a mentor. We enjoyed the rest of our afternoon, laughing, dancing and taking in our festive surroundings. That was Saturday and I submitted my application on Sunday.

In September 2012 I officially became a mentor for SRA. From the interview process to the mentor workshop and regular communications I am continually impressed by the organization, attention to detail and synergy of SRA.

It has only been a few months since I became a part of the SRA family but it has already been a life changing experience. I know how cliché that sounds but it’s the truth. My student has already enriched my life in ways that I had never considered and I only hope that I will be able to return the favor in the years to come.

kareny

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The social, professional, financial and spiritual support that SRA provides is critical to the journey of today's young leaders. The program is a coordinated effort of students, advisors, staff, mentors and volunteers and the results of 90+ % college admission proves that it takes a village. I'm honored to be part of SRA!

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

There are few organizations that allow you to become so personally involved in changing lives of motivated youth. SRA has given me a wonderful gift through my mentee student, currently at UC Merced. The SRA community nurtures great character and provides the means for many under-served students to reach higher. Many, including my mentee, are citizens of the world who see the importance of "paying forward." I am confident they will make a global impact and am honored to be affiliated with such an impressive, professional and well-organized foundation.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My husband and I are new Student Mentors in the program. It took only moments after hearing the mission of SRA to understand that this is an incredible program and something we would want to make personal and financial commitments to. We're only two months into it, but could not feel more connected. We're elated to be supporting something that can be such a life changing experience for deserving kids. Funny thing. . . it's a game changer for us, too!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have volunteered at SRA and have met many of the students who have been involved . SRA does a wondeful job helping these students in need, not only financially but also nurturing. Have someone around who cares is a big part of a persons success, this is what SRA does. They care about each student and want them to succeed no matter what struggles they mat have endured.

Tracy H.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

What an honor and a joy to have had the opportunity to volunteer for Students Rising Above over the past two years. It is so refreshing to see an organization that gets in and gets such important things done for a group of kids that is so deserving. I am certain that the work this organization is doing will deeply enrich the lives of the young people they are supporting but even more importantly, every single one of the exceptional young people helped by this organization will go on to truly enrich the communities we all live in. SRA students are an amazing, inspirational group of young people. If you ever have a chance to get involved with this group I recommend it 100%.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was able to see Student's Rising Above's impact through a friend in the program and have been volunteering for two years since, and will continue to do so.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This summer my company was able to hire three college students from Students Rising Above for a summer internship. The quality of the interns was outstanding. They were smart, eager to help, and anxious to learn about the workplace. The experience for myself and my co-workers was terrific and the students got some valuable insights into the workplace. This was organized and monitored closely by SRA, helping to make it a success.

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I first became interesting in Students Rising Above several years ago after watching a profile of a high school senior done by Wendy Tokuda as a news feature. The student was Student Body President at his high school. There were no parents in his life and he was living with and supporting a younger sister while getting straight As in school and preparing to go to college. I was so impressed with this kid that I contacted Wendy to find out more about him. She responded with a very detailed email and let me know that the response to her series of these profiles had triggered an upswell of people wanting to meet and help these students. This is how Students Rising Above got off the ground. I had never volunteered with any organization before, but I wanted to check this out. I found that the people running the organization were highly professional and dedicated. I also found that the overhead of the organization was minimal and that the vast majority of the funds raised went to helping the students get into college. I was also drawn to the fact that the students were highly motivated and had something within themselves that made them realize they had only one life and they wanted to take a path that would elevate them out of their difficult situation. I have been volunteering my time to SRA for about 5 years providing mostly background services for the annual fund raising dinner and auction. Two years ago I was able to take on an additional role of "mentoring" one of the students. That has given me an opportunity to have more direct contact with some of the students. This experience has enriched me more than the students.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Students Rising Above has made an incredible impact on the students lives, volunteers who give and receive so much back, and the communities where we all live. Students Rising Above and those who work, volunteer, and contribute financially are making an investment in people and in our future together. This is about community, helping each other, caring and building successful partnerships that are resulting in long lasting changes in young peoples lives.

As a mentor I see the hope of these young people in their eyes and feel it in their hearts. These students already have done so much for themselves through their own determination, hard work, and personal vision for the future. Students Rising Above honors them for this and recognizes that they deserve the support, both financial and personal guidance that most do not have. Students Rising Above is a group of caring people who extend their hands and hearts out to these students and share in the joy of seeing great things happen in their lives.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been volunteering my time with Students Rising Above for nearly 2 years. I have been extremely impressed from day 1 with the organization and execution of SRA's mission. The students who benefit from the existence of this program are more than deserving. The determination, intelligence and confidence these students posses is rare. This is what separates SRA from many other programs with similar goals. SRA students are truly the leaders of tomorrow, and SRA's graduates are proof. From the top down, this organization is unique and necessary. The professionalism and compassion shown by the executive team, the advisory team and the volunteers is not only exemplary, it's contagious!

Volunteer

Rating: 4

I volunteer for SRA events and I've had the privilege of meeting a number of students over the years. What strikes me most about SRA is that they really care and want these young adults to not only succeed through college, but through life as well. SRA's impact on the lives of their students is immeasurable, and it's the people who make the difference. I have been selected to be a mentor this year, and I know this experience will have a positive impact on my life as well. I can't wait!!!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Hi! I was introduced to this program by my sister who was actively involved in SRA. She kept telling me what a great organization it was so I agreed to attend one of their gala events a little over a year ago. I was so impressed by what I saw and heard at the gala that I found myself announcing that I would like to become an SRA mentor! I think I was taken most by how sincerely appreciative the kids are. They just seemed to "get it." So, before I knew it, I was signed up and assigned to mentor a young woman from San Francisco and I met her almost a year ago in October of '09. I have to say I was a little bit nervous and didn't really know how it would all work out given the differences in our background, but it's been a great experience for me and I think I've been able to provide a little bit of help to a young woman who is an amazing person in every way. I have to say that I've grown to really love her like she were my own and I think she will be in my life for many years to come. In addition, I've been able to observe the effectiveness of the SRA program close up through her experience and I must say, it is extremely impressive. They do a GREAT job with these kids, who otherwise I'm sure would not be at all properly directed. The kids are guided through their senior year in high school by the SRA counselors to make sure they get their college applications in completed and on time and they really assist them with that entire process. My student was successfully accepted into several colleges and then it was just a matter of helping her select the right one for her...which is where I got to play a role. She's now safely tucked in at the college of her choice and is experiencing her freshman year like any other kid...having a great time, going away to school, leaving home for the first time, and dealing with all of the changes and experiences that come with going away to college! She's the first in her family to attend college which is a great source of pride to her and to her granny! I love this program. The kids really do appreciate the assistance they are receiving, and the program actually works! SRA's graduation rates far exceed the average for this demographic. So, one student at a time, we slowly change the world!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Students Rising Above is an outstanding organization that provides underprivileged and motivated high school juniors the valuable opportunity to apply for and attend college. The SRA model provides a solid and consistent support system – financial, mentor and advisor relationships, healthcare coordination, workshops – without which, matriculating into college is mostly a dream. Equally fantastic, is the graduation success rate (90%) for these students compared to the national average. There are many heartwarming and inspiring success stories of SRA participants who “rise above”, finish college and deservingly go on to productive lives. Behind all this is an amazingly dedicated, involved and giving staff that make this organization such a success and pleasure to be associated with.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was lucky enough to hear about Students Rising Above from a friend a few years ago. Education has always been important to me, so it was a great fit from the start. After participating in the planning process for the annual Gala fundraising event, I was able to meet some of the students and hear their stories firsthand at the event itself. It was such a moving experience, and solidified my commitment to the organization. Meeting the students and seeing them interact with their advisors and mentors, it becomes very clear that the success of Students Rising Above stems from the fact that it is so much more than a scholarship program. It is the ongoing support, encouragement and resources available to these students that make all the difference.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Students Rising Above (SRA) is a wonderful program that seeks to aid high school students who show academic talent but who come from family backgrounds that might otherwise prohibit them from reaching to, getting into, and affording college. As a mentor I spend quality time with my student and present myself as a role model for him or her. We do fun activities together and I encourage a friendship between us that allows him or her to feel as though they can come to me with issues or questions. They are aided in college prep and college funding. Its an amazing program I'm proud to be a part of.